Native New Yorker Mae West was born in Brooklyn on August 17, 1893 on, declared Mae years later, a cool night during a hot month.
If you've ever researched the New York City census, it's interesting to examine the past of Mae's maternal line and Mae's paternal line. Each family was living in Manhattan for several years before moving to Brooklyn [the borough where "Battling Jack" West settled with his lovely young bride Tillie]. These census entries document an interesting pattern of lies about national origin, levels of education, and even English language proficiency. Small wonder that little Mary Jane West learned -- early on -- to embroider fancy tales about her family and descendents.
"What was the ethnic background of Mae West?" is a question often asked.
You'll find the startling truth in Act I, Scene 2 of "Courting Mae West" [a play based on true events] when Mae argues with her drunken sister Beverly right before they are arrested in Bridgeport, Connecticut in early February 1927.